There might be a compass, but their poles are moving around looking for an acceptable settling point.
A few times I noticed that 'freedom is slavery', could have won out over 'do as I command, not as I do!'
Once you get to a certain point of self understanding, much of the BS generated from excess testosterone, male bravado, economic greed, ideological true belief, youthful idealism, political sophistry, etc, can drop off a little.
I don't have a gun. I could be the biggest dog on the block if I wanted to. I want people to be ok, because the alternative is very unsettling, and seems very mean. I am not the center of universe, and I know I will die. I do not live in a 'privilaged' place, thinking that I have a RIGHT to rule or control. I have noticed my own demons a few times, and I do not feed them, much.
As a theist, you should consider yourself lucky to live in a culture where even your beliefs can have a say in the formulation of culture, and where extremism is generally not rewarded. Even I would not desire to live with atheists as the Big Dog, I like the variety.
I have lived with people that have heavy theist beliefs, such situations are draining, and my performance always under par. The desire for conformity under such a condition drains the blood from my brain case.
Time. I think that the concept scared me when it first entered my head, but it has been over 25 years since that time and it's hard for me to remember how I felt back then.
Existence is the tiny sausage which is sandwiched between two very large slices of non-existence.
I never believed in god or the afterlife. I certainly tried but it never felt right. I never had the experience of realizing that there was no such thing as eternal life or life after death. For me, life has always had an expiration date.
The mind is what the brain does. When the brain ceases to function the mind ceases to be. Death doesn't scare me because I won't even know that I'm dead.
"Life is a lot like a book. There's no point wondering if it has an end, it does. The point is whether you enjoyed the book or not." ( I don't know who this quote belongs to but it isn't mine.)
I am however disappointed, like I am with a good book, that I will never get know what happens next.
It does seem a shame, we get one book, while Harry Potter gets a series --
I did Death Watch with a friend's family once. Her mother was near passing, and we had placed a hospital bed in the family's livingroom with a crew of friends and caregivers. This happened during the few hours/days around New Years 2000, so it was memorable, and heart felt.
I stayed in the room, with the mother as she slowly passed, not knowing how to be helpful, but knowing that I was witness to something that was important to myself and the family's well being. In the background, the TV was on with the news from around the world as the change to 2000 rolled around the planet.
I noticed that the air in the room had changed, with the smell of ammonia, and the caregivers came in to clean her. A little while latter, I noticed a silence, as breathing stopped, and a simple peace filled the house.
The silence felt like a prayer, almost. I never really saw the transition, but felt that silence, it is amazing how loud another's breathing is, and how life processes seem to fill the space around us.
Sorry, James, but that just seems so incredibly inhumane and unnecessary to me. I wish our species would get over itself and let people opt out by quick death while under anesthetic. This whole idea of drawing it out to the last possible laboured breath just saddens me.
The family was Catholic, need I say more...
Wow, James - thanks for sharing that with us. You made me feel like I was there.
How I might choose to look at existence and its inevitable end is the quintessential moot question, isn't it? since the FACT of death is not altered by my perception of it. It just is, and there's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is make the best of it. I like to challenge religionists who demand that I explain what comes after death to remind me of what came before life. That generally elicits a blank stare in response. That being said, I'd be glad to share my particular coping paradigm.
First of all, I see no reason why I should fear what comes after death any more than I retain horrific memories of my suffering before I was born. Secondly, I define eternity, in human experiential terms, as one's particular lifespan. Therefore, whether a baby dies in infancy or an old man hangs on to 110, those two eternities are of equal quality, equal value, and perhaps most profoundly, equal duration. Sometimes, too, I like to think of death as a dreamless sleep during which there is no sense of time passing.
Nearly everyone, including me, fears dying, because it usually is accompanied by physical pain. If there were a god that promised relief from that agony, I would have a much tougher time rejecting him/her/it. But that, too, is moot, because no religion of which I'm aware bothers to address that issue. I'd like to think, though, that I would still reject it, because giving up my powers of reason is my idea of the ultimate hell.
"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."
-- Mark Twain --